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This morning, LL was all over Fenty’s announced District gov job cuts. Our aggressive political scribe reported: “Of the remaining 776 employees the mayor is proposing to lay off, 250 are in DCPS—mostly teachers aides and support staff, Tangherlini says.” This may not seem like scary news, but it is.
I know what your thinking: teachers aides and support staff seem like easy cuts. What the hell do teacher aides do? What does support staff mean? Let me guess what they do: they help handle over-crowded classrooms, offer tutoring, lesson planning and generally help teachers get through the day. I’m not sure about support staff. But it could mean social workers, guidance counselors, secretaries, and librarians.
Do we really want to cut funding for these jobs? These cuts are coming on the heels of all those school closures last year. Catania made the argument today on the Politics Hour that enrollment is down at DCPS and that more and more kids are going into charter schools. But for every successful charter school, there are stories like City Lights Public Charter which recently had to close its doors before the school year even finished.
It seems like every other week, Colbert King is documenting another screwup with juveniles at DYRS (that few officials care about). If Fenty chooses to make these cuts at DCPS, the safety net for kids will get that much weaker. Do we really want to layoff social workers? Do we really want to cut school personnel that much more? I have met some of these school-based social workers and nobody works harder than they do. Nobody.
Which department should feel some hurt? I think DCPS should be saved from cuts as well as the DMV. Everything else should be on the table.
5:16 p.m. Update: Dena Iverson, press secretary for DCPS, writes in an e-mail: “I just wanted to make a quick but I think important clarification to your post on City Desk about the DCPS reduction of 250 positions. The reduction in positions is so that we can align staff to lower enrollment. We expect that the change in the number of staff will happen though staff retirement and attrition.” That must be a lot of teacher aids that are retiring.
*photo of Fenty by Darrow Montgomery.